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Festivals & Cultural Events in Bhutan

Imbibed in the rich culture and blessed with a number of reasons to celebrate, Bhutan is not for nothing called the land of happiness. This Buddhist country never misses a reason to show gratitude be it towards Guru Rinpoche/Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) or Mother Nature and it is evident with a large number of festivals it holds in a calendar year. Therefore, the yearly festival calendar of Bhutan is replete popular festival months and worth seeing events & activities. Almost every month there is a religious celebration in Bhutan called Tshechu which means ‘tenth day,’ corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche. In each Tshechu, the mask dance performed by monks (at the monasteries) is the prime attraction. The theme of the dance is mostly a popular legend/tale dating as far as the 8th century. Amongst the popular Tshechus in Bhutan are Paro and Thimphu Tshechu attended by a large number of people across the country who come with the belief that their sins will be washed by witnessing this event. These festivals are also amongst the top tourist attractions and a reason to travel to Bhutan for a festival holiday. Apart from the mask dance, other forms of Bhutanese dances and entertainment activities are also held during the Tshechus.

Apart from the popular Tsechus, a year in Bhutan is filled with many other celebrations that are a must-see. The Rhododendron festival near Thimphu, where around 46 species of rhododendron are exhibited, is one of the major festivals in Bhutan. A similar festival is Matsutake Mushroom Festival in Ura Valley where 40 species of mushroom are on display. In Ura, another grand festival takes place annually, known as Ura Yakchoe, in which the invoking and escorting of the statue of Chhana Dorje are the major attractions. It is also one of the most colourful festivals in Bhutan. The Haa Summer Festival is a popular tourism festival that gives an insight into the rich culture and history of Bhutan. Another worth seeing festival in Bhutan is Jhomolhari Mountain Festival where both nature and culture are celebrated including the existence of snow leopards. The Tour of the Dragon is an unusual festival to see in Bhutan, it is a bicycle race that commences from Bumthang and ends in the capital city, Thimphu via four major mountain passes in the country. There is so much the country has in store when it comes to festivals. Get all the insights on the Tshechus and other festivals in the country along with Bhutan Festivals dates of 2019, 2020, and major highlights of each festivity in this section.

Mark Your Calendar For These Top 10 Upcoming Festivals in Bhutan in 2019/2020

S.No Festival Name Festival Dates
Starts on Ends on
1 Black Necked Crane Festival 11 November 2019 11 November 2019
2 Jakar Tshechu Festival 03 November 2019 07 November 2019
3 Jambay Lhakhang Drup 12 November 2019 15 November 2019
4 Talo Tshechu Festival 01 March 2020 04 March 2020
5 Punakha Drubchen Festival 02 March 2020 04 March 2020
6 Punakha Tshechu Festival 05 March 2020 07 March 2020
7 Tharpaling Thongdrol Festival 09 March 2020 09 March 2020
8 Ura Yakchoe Festival 04 April 2020 08 April 2020
9 Paro Tshechu Festival 04 April 2020 08 April 2020
10 Chorten Kora Festival 08 April 2020 08 April 2020

Must See Tourism Festivals & Cultural Events in Bhutan

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A one-day event that is celebrated in the popular Kurjey Lakhang with much pomp and show by the people of Jakar and Kurjey villages, Kurjey Tshechu marks the birth anniversary of Guru Rimpoche also known as the second Buddha. The highlights of this tshechu are the cham and folk dances. The festival is concluded with the display of a large Thongdrol, a mere sight of which is believed to cleanse one from all the sins.

Haa Summer Festival Bhutan

Date (July 12-14, 2019)

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Reckoned to be amongst the most popular tourism festivals in Bhutan, Haa Summer Festival offers the best glimpse of the country’s culture, traditions, beliefs, and art and craft. This colourful festival which takes place in the surreal Haa Valley also offers visitors a chance to experience the Bhutanese hospitality by spending a night in a homestay.

Nimalung Tshechu Festival Bhutan

Date (July 10-12, 2019)

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Celebrated in the fifth month of Buddhist calendar, Nimalung Tshechu is yet another important event in Bhutan. This three-day festival takes place in Nimalung Lakhang in Chumey Valley, Bumthang. The major attractions of this religious festival is the unfurling of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol along with his cham dance. The other mask and folk dances are also performed during Nimalung Tshechu.

Geneka Mushroom Festival Thimphu

Date (Aug 15-16, 2019)

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Held in a secluded village of Genekha in Thimphu district, Mushroom Festival is a must-see in Bhutan. It is a two-day festival in which a variety of mushrooms are exhibited with Tricholoma Matsutake species being the highlight. Known to be grown only the forests, this species of mushroom is famed for its succulent flavour. In the festival cultural programs are held along with mushroom picking activity and tasting of Matsutake mushroom soup.

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Often regarded as an ultra marathon, Tour of the Dragon is a unique bike race event in Bhutan in which the contestants have to cover 200+ km in a single day, reckoned to be the one of the toughest one-day mountain bike races in the world, it begins from the beautiful destination of Bumthang in Bhutan and concludes in the capital city, Thimphu. The participants have to cover a distance of 268 km and has to cross four high mountain passes.

Wangdue Tshechu Festival Bhutan

Date (Oct 06-08, 2019)

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Known for the Raksha Mangcham or the Dance of the Ox, Wangdue Tshechu or Wandue Tshechu is celebrated in the district of the same name in central Bhutan. It is a five-day celebration that is marked by mask or cham dances and the unfurling of a giant Thongdrol of Guru Tshengye at the last day. The festival which use to take place in Wangdue Phodrang is now held at Tencholing Army Ground since the former was burned in a fire.

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Organized to raise awareness about the endangered black necked cranes who are inseparable part of the local community during the winter season. In this festival which is held in the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha Valley cultural programs, folk dances and mask dances are performed by the local people. Crane dances and conservation-themed dramas and songs are also performed by the school children.

Jambay Lhakhang Drup Bhutan

Date (Nov 12-15, 2019)

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Held in the premises of a 7th century Jambay Lhakhang in Jakar, Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the unique festivals in Bhutan due to the performance of a sacred Tercham (naked dance) which was initiated by Terton Dorje Lingpa. During the festival Mewang (fire blessing) ritual is also performed for the infertile women to be blessed with children. Other dances performed during this festival is Macham, Ging Tsholing, Dramtse Ngacham, Zhana Cham.

Jakar Tshechu Festival Bhutan

Date (Nov 03-07, 2019)

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Celebrated in the Jakar Dzong or “the Dzong of the white bird”, Jakar Tshechu is a popular festival in Bumthang. It is a five-day event which commences from the 7th day of the ninth month of Bhutanese lunar calendar. The festival that is held in a dzong that is perched on a hillock and has a reservoir from which in ancient people drew water during the battles. The main highlights of the festival are the cham dances, folk dances, and the exhibition of a large thangaka of Guru Rimpoche.

Domkhar Tshechu Festival Bhutan

Date (May 03-05, 2020)

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A three-day festival, Domkhar Tshechu is celebrated in Chumey Valley of Bumthang District. This famous event in Bhutan takes place in Domkhar Monastery which was built by Serkhong Truelku during the 18th century. The monastery is also considered to be his residence. The main attractions of Domkhar Tshechu are the Cham Dances (mask dances), folk dances, and the unfurling of large Thongdrols on the last day of the festival.